Monday marked the first full day of sessions at the 2015 NASPA Annual Conference, anchored by the highly anticipated keynote by Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry.
Before she even spoke, hundreds of attendees filled the lobby in front of registration to meet Melissa Harris-Perry and have a copy of her book, Sister Citizen, signed and have some face-to-face time with one of the nation’s leading social justice advocates.
Following that she took the stage in the Great Hall and proceeded to bring the house down. Harris-Perry spoke to a wide range of issues impacting the country from violence against black citizens to the increasing oppression of women.
Harris-Perry put the age of students into perspective, “students today were 10 when hurricane Katrina hit.” They’ve grown up in a decade that’s been particularly fraught and has had numerous cases of high-profile violence against black citizens punctuated by the election of Barack Obama.
“When we told them we were upset about the killing of Michael Brown, they tear-gassed us,” she said, concluding that, “We made these violent choices because we were afraid.”
The continued fight for gender equality was also a key-focus of her keynote. One of the most revealing examples she provided was the way that we talk about genitalia. We tell people to “man up” or “grow a pair” in a positive light but use derogatory terms associated with female genitalia when we’re being negative.
Harris-Perry concluded her speech with an anecdote of how her father, himself a civil rights activist, never signed her birthday cards with “love, Dad” but rather “the struggle continues.” She expressed hope in the current generation of students, noting that in some ways they’ve shown more courage than the civil rights movement in their acceptance of the GLBT movement, as well as a recognition of their “place in the arc of history.”
The keynote set the perfect tone for the remainder of the day as attendees filed out, energized and ready to Navigate with Courage.
We invite you to visit the NASPA Foundation Silent Auction, located outside of the Great Hall, and bid on one (or more!) of the amazing items that have been donated. Available is one-on-one professional development with NASPA President Kevin Kruger, a Certified Peer Education training with David Arnold, a Pacific Northwest themed gift basket from Gonzaga University, and a beautiful collection of photos. Take a look:
Proceeds from the NASPA Silent Auction go to the NASPA Foundation. You can bid by visiting the Silent Auction in-person or browsing online.